Dzintars: “You occupied and abused us. Now we’re poor. We demand money.”
Rogozin: “Here, Dzintars, I’ll give you something even better than money….”
The context comes from this piece , written by Vyacheslav Samoilov, for EurasiaDaily.
Who Is To Blame?
As everyone knows, the official governments of the Baltic States (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) have many beefs against Russia, their giant neighbor to the South.
This week, all three Baltic governments got together in Riga to make their routine demand of Russia: To compensate them for their past “Occupation” and all the suffering that ensued. A few billion dollars would do the job nicely.
Rasnačs spoke for all the others when he made the following statement:
“The devastation which the Occupationist Soviet totalitarian regime wreaked on the Baltics, is impossible to fully compensate! However, compensation is lawful and necessary, to make right for the illegality which occurred. and in order to guarantee the further stability and security of the nation.”
Rasnačs went on to repeat the standard Baltic meme, namely that the current poverty and depopulation of the Baltic nations is a consequence of the “painful Soviet legacy”. Given that the human brain is perfectly able to calculate alternative historical realities by tweaking variables from the past [sarcasm], it is known for a scientific 100% certainty that, ’twere it not for the Soviet “Occupation”, the Balto-argument goes, the Baltic nations would currently enjoy a standard of living equal to FINLAND’S. Instead, all they see around them is poverty, depression, unemployment, depopulation and loss. Which have nothing to do with their governments’ neo-liberal economic policies, or the population’s indebtedness to Western banks, and everything to do with the Soviet past.
The solution is to bill Russia for billions of dollars. The method of calculating the amount of compensation is being discussed by the Justice Ministers of all three nations. They are working out a formula, even as we speak.
What Is To Be Done?
Meanwhile, the Russian government is used to these outbursts. And it doesn’t even matter, who is wrong, or who is right, in this historical dispute. It’s like your brother-in-law and his ex-wife: Nobody except them, even cares any more what happened, or who is to blame, for their break-up. The raw fact is, that the Russian government will NEVER compensate the Baltic states for past “occupation”. If anything, the Russian government will present a counter-bill, demanding repayment for all the money that was invested, over those decades, by the Soviet state, into the Baltic industrial infrastructure.
Who Owes Whom?
The meme of “47 years of Soviet occupation” is the official ideology of the Baltic states, as they struggle to formulate a national history and identity based on those social classes and segments of society, and those ethnic elements which were hostile to the Soviet Union and which favored Europe and the West. These elites felt humiliated being under the “jackboot” of the barbaric Russians. For them, granted, it isn’t even about the money, it’s about their feelings of self-worth. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, these ethnic elites felt the same way that Titania did, waking up in the morning, and realizing that she was tricked into making love to a donkey.
On the other hand, for many ordinary people who have to work for a living, the Soviet system provided them with a measure of security and human dignity. A job, a pension, little things like that. Regardless of ethnic loyalties, for these people the end of Soviet system was a catastrophe.
As Samoilov points out, by the time of the Soviet collapse around 1990, the three Baltic Republics were fully developed industrial nations, with economic indicators comparable to those of Western Europe. For example, at the end of the 1980’s, Latvia had a GDP of around $6265 per capita. Compare this with West Germany, at $10,709; Italy $7425; Ireland $5225. Latvian industrial firms produced radios, heavy vehicles, tape recorders, milking machines, washing machines, paper products, mopeds, pianos, robots, telephones, railway cars, the list goes on and on. Population had a healthy growth of 1.1 per 1000 per year.
Lithuania and Estonia similarly were flourishing nations, by any demographic or economic indicator. Economically and demographically, these countries thrived under Soviet “occupation”.
The collapse of the Soviet Union led to the economic collapse of these countries too. When the Titanic goes down, so do the surrounding small boats. Meanwhile, much of the old Communist Party nomenklatura switched sides, became “nationalists” and maintained their elite positions in the new societies, which now plunged down the neo-liberal capitalist economic path, guided by their new mentor, the United States. Old elites were supplemented by diaspora Balts arriving from Canada to take up positions as the Gauleiters of the new NATO occupiers. The result of their mis-rule has been an economic and demographic catastrophe. To deflect blame from themselves, the Baltic elites, on a routine basis, claim their own victimhood and demand money — LOTS OF MONEY — from the Russian Federation, the successor state to the Soviet Union.
Ostap Bender Has the Solution
In his response to the latest “pretensions” of the Baltic politicians, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin was forced to resort to Russian literature, to find the correct allusion.
Recall how in the Russian literary classic “The Twelve Chairs”, by Ilf and Petrov, the main character, the thief Ostap Bender, is presented by a street urchin with a demand for payment above and beyond the ruble that he promised. Cuffing the urchin on the head, Bender exclaims: “You’ll get the ears of a dead ass – you Defective!” Which is what Rogozin, in his Twitter account, quoted to the Baltic leaders.